Sunday, June 24

Economy affects length of students’ stay at UCLA

Angelica Kalika became aware at a very early age that finances do not take care of themselves.

When she was accepted by UC Berkeley in 2004, Kalika discovered that she had to not only deal with the financial burden of college tuition but also the expenses that come with living away from home.

She realized that the only way that she could achieve her goal of going to school was to cut the time it took to receive her degree significantly ““ and in her case, right down the middle.

In just two years, she managed to obtain her degree in psychology with a 3.154 GPA after completing 120.5 units, just a little above the minimum 120 required for graduation.

Coming from a single-parent home, Kalika often helped balance the budget for the salon her mother ran in their hometown of Denver, Colorado.

“The only thing I had control of were my grades. I had no control over parents, a lot of my emotions or my parents’ emotions. I thought to myself that if I could get good grades, I could depend on myself. This was my goal, path and direction,” Kalika said.

In college, Kalika meticulously planned her schedule so as to only take courses that fulfilled major and graduation requirements, even resorting to cramming in 24 semester units during her last summer at UC Berkeley.

Because UC Berkeley charges per semester rather than per course, she learned that in order to get more bang for her buck, she had to always take a full course load in order to qualify for financial aid.

However, Kalika’s intense college graduation plan is one of only a few.

Senior UCLA college counselor Ernesto Guerrero said graduation depends on the flexibility of a person’s major because some are more rigid and have more requirements than others.

Guerrero said that the economic climate has also influenced students’ decision about graduation. Many have decided to stay longer in college to take advantage of the variety of programs offered, especially because of the current state of the job market.

“Students don’t delay graduation necessarily, but they do maybe decide to go study abroad, do an internship, gain research experience or think about grad school more seriously,” he said.

Transfer student Reina Flora Urbiztondo, who entered UCLA fall 2006, stayed an extra quarter and completed classes at UCLA during fall 2008.

Like Kalika, Urbiztondo wanted to save money, and she attended Cerritos Community College for two years. Upon entering UCLA, a demanding course schedule for her molecular, cell and developmental biology major influenced her decision to extend her college stay.

“The curriculum was challenging mostly because not all classes are offered every quarter. Once you miss the chance to take one requisite, you have to wait one to two quarters for you to be able to take it,” she said.

She remained at UCLA for an extra quarter, finishing fall 2008, to take advantage of the research opportunities available, she said.

Although graduation is different for everyone and depends on personal and academic goals, Guerrero said it is not just the time it takes to graduate or making sure you complete all the required courses that are most important. He said he advises all students to take advantage of any outside activities to make their resumes more competitive once they do decide to enter the work force.

“Your major oftentimes has little to do with your career; it’s what else you have (that makes you more competitive). Your major is only one line on your resume,” Guerrero said.

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